Ember restaurant in Arroyo Grande is all about serving authentic hand-crafted food cooked by a wood fire. We aim to create the ideal environment to experience Central Coast food and wine.
ABOUT THE FOOD
"We serve Italian-inspired California Cuisine. First off I love Italy. Love the land, love the food, love the people... all my inspirations find their way back to Italy. When I cook Italian, it is not what a lot of Americans think of as Italian. I suppose cooking "Italian" can mean different things. To me it means: #1 cooking with a genuine spirit of giving and love, #2 cooking what is local and with a proud sense of tradition, #3 Less is more! What do I mean by that? It's arguable that nobody in the world eats better than the peasants of Italy. They can take a handful of simple ingredients such as dried beans, garlic, parsley, tomato, and breadcrumbs and make angels cry. They make it taste good because they have to. But really, it's that passion, not frugality, that pushes the simple ingredients skyward. Our food will always be simple fare to be shared and enjoyed."
Brian Collins, Chef/Owner
WINE + BEER + CRAFT COCKTAILS
Our goal at Ember is to create the ideal environment to enjoy food and wine, beer or spirits. Our thoughtfully created wine list mostly features wines from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, in addition to greater California and beyond. Featuring a dozen wines by the glass and nearly 150 wines by the bottle, our list is sure to provide something for everyone.
Our craft beer program at Ember features 10 drafts of the finest selection of locally brewed beers available today. Rotating tap handles ensure the offerings stay fresh and seasonal.
We have an exceptionally innovative and unique craft cocktail program that changes seasonally and features the finest spirits, house-made syrups, fresh juices, tinctures and herbs.
ABOUT THE SETTING
We are occupying what can be described as an "old pole barn". Well hey, recycle and repurposing is all the rage (for a very good reason) so the location of Ember is dutifully stepping in line with that sentiment. "Funky" is embraced and corralled into what sets the stage for a fun and entertaining evening. Quite literally a show; we feature an open kitchen with a wood fired oven, a brick-and-mortar fireplace/hearth outfitted with a Tuscan grill and spit-roaster to conjure the essential flavors of honest food.
As the Chef and Owner of Ember Restaurant, Brian Collins is known for his modern approach to regional Italian Cuisine on California’s Central Coast.
A native of Arroyo Grande, Brian was drawn to food and cooking at an early age. After taking his first cooking job at a local café he was immediately drawn to the restaurant industry. Shortly thereafter, Brian enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He and his wife, Harmony, and their young daughter, Emma, packed up and the journey to become a chef began.
Prior to graduation, Brian obtained an intern position at Berkeley’s famous Chez Panisse Restaurant in 2000. Upon the completion of a three month internship and graduation from culinary school, Brian was offered a full-time position which turned into a six-year stint cooking under the tutelage of Alice Waters. Brian credits much of his culinary philosophy and influence to Chez Panisse and its talented brigade of chefs.
In 2006 the time had come to return to the Central Coast with the determination to open a restaurant of his own. After cooking at Lido restaurant as both Sous Chef and Executive Chef, Brian found inspiration in the Santa Barbara Wine Country in a small town called Los Alamos. As the Chef of Full of Life Flatbread, Brian created weekly changing menus that gained the restaurant notoriety as one of the region’s top culinary destinations.
After scouting potential locations, Brian discovered a property in his hometown of Arroyo Grande and he and Harmony opened Ember. The restaurant was fortunate to become an immediate success and quickly became known as one of the top restaurants on the Central Coast.
CHEF DE CUISINE
In 2010 David began cooking professionally in the kitchen of Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, CA, which is where he met and became friends with Brian Collins. Starting out in the factory and the catering department, he did everything from making pizzas for their frozen line, to working grandiose caterings for weddings, company parties, wine startups, and music festivals. As soon as a position became available in the restaurant he was offered to work the oven at FOL as “baker”, cooking up entrées on the grill and starter plates baked in the oven along with flatbreads. Within two months he was promoted to the position of Sous Chef, and under the tutelage of Collins, his knowledge base grew tremendously.
In 2013 Collins left FOL to pursue his dream of becoming a restaurateur in an endeavor that would eventually be known as Ember in Arroyo Grande.
Marks’ background in carpentry was known of and called upon to help in the construction of Ember two months prior to opening. Doing much of the woodwork, David is able to admire the beauty of Ember whenever he has a chance to look up from his duties on the line; working the wood-fired oven or expediting. Playing an active role in menu changes and “politics” of the kitchen, David has found a home in his work place and in 2019 became Chef de Cuisine!
Matthew was born and raised on the Central Coast of California. He has been working in the food industry for ten years and has recently developed a passion for pastry the past 4 years. He was inspired by the artistry, science, and craftsmanship that pastry has to offer. In June 2013, he graduated with a Certificate of Honors in L’Art de la Pâtisserie - The Professional Pastry and Baking Program at The French Pastry School in Chicago, IL. While in Chicago, Matt continued to expand his knowledge and skills by working and volunteering in several restaurants and hotels. He is very excited to be back in Arroyo Grande to continue to work alongside Chef Brian Collins.